I read multiple “how to travel to Disney with an infants” blogs before our trip and their advice proved to be extremely helpful. This post could also be titled “how we spent 12+ hours without leaving Animal Kingdom and managed to keep Isaac happy 90% of the time. Isaac really loved the whole day. He napped at his normal times, and did not get overwhelmed or exhausted. I contribute this to a couple of major things: the baby center, multiple times spent stopping to rock him to sleep (even sitting in a gift shop during a thunderstorm) and our stroller. Disney is extremely baby and kid friendly. Stroller parking is manned and designated at almost every attraction so you can leave all your things, and just take yourselves without worrying. If you are thinking about taking a trip to Disney with a baby, it all depends on you and your child. We loved it, but it is alot of work. We think it is worth the extra work, planning and money. Overall, it was a great experiance!
Here are my top ten tips for a really magical day at Animal Kingdom :
- Animal Kingdom at Night is worth the wait, especially the Tree of Life Illuminations. We spent the entire day, from 9 am until 9 pm at Animal Kingdom. With an infant, that included alot of planned breaks while he ate and napped, but we were able to take it slow and see the lights. We did not go to Rivers of Light because we did not have fastpasses. But I wanted to see Pandora and the Tree of Life and decided to sit for a long dinner around 7:30 in order to see the lights after dark. Pandora is neat, but the real show for me is the Tree of Life. The projections bring the tree to life and periodically short shows are projected on the tree. You will have the best view standing directly in front of the tree, but their are also projections on the back which can be seen from the walkway between Africa and Asia.
- Plan Fastpasses wisely. Animal Kingdom does not have enough rides with Fastpasses to really get an extra fastpass after you have used your first three. We could have used ours for the 7pm Lion King show, but we decided that we woukd rather do dinner at that time. Fastpasses are avaliable 30 days in advance if you are not staying at a Disney resort. We did not wait more than 15 minutes for any ride or show all day, which was essential with an infant. We had a Safari fastpass at 9:05, Navi River at 12:30 and Mickey and Minnie at 3:10. The space between each let us move slow and take our time. Get to the Finding Nemo show as it starts, no fastpass is normally needed. (Same with Flights of Wonder). We were there on a summer Friday and sat near the front by walking up right as the doors opened.
- Food! Eat a late breakfast (10:45) at Tuskers. The food is amazing, the characters are really interactive and it is a great atmosphere. We ate lunch, 45$ a person, at 11:15, but if we would have eaten 30 minutes earlier, it would have cost 39$ each. If you are an early bird like me, 11 am is lunch and it saves some money for the same experiance. Dole Whip is also sold in Africa, with or without coconut rum! Pizzafari was a pleasant surprise for us on this trip. It looks like a small resturant, but it actually has lots of seating, inside and outside. Ryan and I were able to order a pizza, garlic knots and a soda for less than 20 bucks. (As always you can order cups of water at Disney resturaunts for free.)
- Go to Rafiki’s Planet Watch! This seems to be off the beaten path for alot of people at Animal Kingdom. The train ride lets you see the behind the scenes animal enclosures, and it runs every 5-7 minutes, so I’ve never had to wait. Their is a petting zoo, really cool exhibits with amphbians and reptiles. You can also watch vets working with the animals in their lab. They have live animal talks, as well as Doc Mcstuffins and Rafiki characters. I am always surprised how many people skip this during their visit. Also, if you are traveling with a baby, there is an additional family restroom at Rafiki’s.
- BABY CENTER If you are traveling with a baby this is a life saver. We visited multiple times during the day. They sell all kinds of baby supplies, have a bottle making station, nursing rooms, a room fill of changing tables and a room with kids tables and a movie playing. We would not have been able to stay all day with a 4 month old without the baby center.
- Take the Walks: Normally people walk so much at Disney that they would avoid extra treks. The walks at Animal Kingdom really make me love the park. The Tree of Life Garden Trail, The Discovery Island Trail, The Pangani Exploration Trail, the Jungle Trek in Asia, and the new walk to Pandora from the Africa path all add so much to the immersive experiance. Each is so different, but are never crowded and worth the extra few steps.
- Take the Safari at 9:05 am. You will see the most animals. We saw the Rhinos run around, the male and female lion were both out, and almost every other animal was visible and close to the road.
- Flights of Wonder. This was a new show for us, and we really enjoyed it. It is a bird show and I love birds, so I am biased. It is not long, but the jokes were funny for all ages and a good stop for a short sit break later in the afternoon.
- Disney Experiance App & Magic Bands Each year the My Disney Experiance App has improved. I used this app for all of my planning, dining reservations and linking magicbands.There is a new feature to order food through the app at certain resturuants and go directly and pick up your food, which is really nice. We used the app all throughout the day for different things. If you are traveling with a baby or young child, magic bands are totally worth the cost, especially if yoj are planning multiple days or multiple trips. We have not stayed at a Disney resort, where magicbands are included, but for 13 bucks it made our fastpasses, entry and photopass stops so much easier.
- Don’t worry about doing and seeing everything.This is not specific to Animal Kingdom or Disney, but taking your time and enjoying the atmosphere is essential for enjoying a day at Animal Kingdom. I am not a ride thrill ride person. I do not care at all to ride the Everest ride. Some people come to Animal Kingdom and dislike the lack of rides. For me, I love the animals and shows. Do what you like and explore. I can promise that running to Pandora when the park opens to get first in line is not my cup of tea, so I am not going to do it. But if thats for you, then go for it. Speakinh of Pandora, Check out my seperate post on Animal Kingdom’s Pandora to hear about all my thoughts.